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More on SB-407, Housing Density AB-1537 Legislation and More – Blaine Morris’ 2014 President of Marin Association of Realtors 02/10/14 Monday Memo

Good morning MAR members!

With the Super Bowl behind us, it was great to get out on tour this week to see the beginnings of our inventory for the spring home buying season.  Even though our winter rains finally seem to have rolled in, the daffodils  blooming (early) in my front yard point to spring right around the corner!  Buyers were out too, with agents reporting lots of activity.  Let’s all hope for more inventory to go along with more rain!

More on SB-407

My weekly updates on SB-407 will continue until we have clarity on the rollout.  This is the new water conserving fixtures legislation.  MAR is contacting the various municipalities to confirm local rollout plans.  I also spoke this week with one of the leaders of the local building official group, and he said that a consistent policy will be available after their next meeting a week from Wednesday on February 19th.  Stay tuned.

Speaking of SB-407, I received an email this week from MAR’s attorney, who reminded me about the “bill that no one is talking about, SB-407.”  After ensuring him that we are indeed talking about it, at least in Marin, he shared a couple of groups’ interesting interpretations of the law.  First is the California Contractors State License Board, which operates under the same Dept. of Consumer Affairs as our Bureau of Real Estate.  A bulletin from this group states, in part, that “Although not a legal opinion, the California Building Officials (CALBO) group has interpreted ‘alterations’ or ‘improvements’ to mean any construction to an existing structure that enhances or improves the structure. Construction that is related to repairs or maintenance of the structure is not considered to be an alteration or improvement.”

The bulletin goes on to say that items such as electrical service change out, HVAC change out, re-roofing, sewer line replacement, siding or stucco, retaining walls, fences, water heaters, windows should not trigger the retrofit requirement.  Near the end, the bulletin says “It is feared that property owners and licensed contractors who misunderstand the law may end up paying for new fixtures that are not required, or may avoid pulling building permits altogether to avoid the possible triggers to SB 407.”

You can read the full bulletin here:

Again, this is not legal opinion, but since contractors look to be among the beneficiaries of this program, it’s refreshing to see their state board pull things back a bit.

The very comprehensive California Building Official’s group’s bulletin referenced above is here:

MAR will continue to advocate to our local building officials for clarity on this rollout.

A couple of odds and ends:

While scrambling up the mountain to see a new listing off of Panoramic Highway in Mill Valley on Wednesday’s broker tour, I was reminded of several emails I received from aggravated members last year.  This first broker’s open house was closing at 1:00, so in order to see it I needed to carve out a half-hour plus in the middle of tour to see this one property.  The members who contacted me last year identified a growing trend in our MAR community:  the shortened brokers’ open.  I wasn’t part of the “which hours on which days in which towns” discussion many years ago, but the convention that everyone agreed to was the following:  Wednesdays from 9:30-12:30 in Novato; Wednesdays from 10:30-2:00 in Southern Marin, and Thursdays from 10:30-2:00 in Central Marin.

Yes, it’s pretty simple, and yes I know we all know this.  I can understand the occasional 11:00 start times, I’m personally guilty of this sometimes, given that many of us have sales meetings on Thursday morning.  But why all the 1:00 close times…particularly on the first brokers’ open house?  I’m sure each of us can think of circumstances where you have to make some hard decisions about which houses you’re going to miss because you have to scramble across the county to see that ONE place you must see that closes at 1:00.  People grumble about this all the time.  Yes, I know sometimes we’re not worried about it, in this brisk market…yes, I know your listing is going to get multiple offers and you’re not worried.  But let’s be courteous to our fellow Realtors, and keep the house open until at least 2:00…at least the first week.


Thank you Colleen Frasco for identifying an error in last week’s Monday Memo.  I mentioned that on the recommendation of CAR’s Taxation and Government Finance Committee meeting, the CAR Board of Directors voted to “SUPPORT” legislation to study the impact of allowing homeowners to transfer their property tax basis to a home anywhere in the state.  This relates to Propositions 60 and 90, and I incorrectly stated the provision that over-age-50 homeowners can transfer their tax basis once per lifetime.  Colleen reminded me that it’s over-age-55, not 50.  That’s how rumors get started, and I wanted to clear that up.  Thank you Colleen!

Housing Density

On the legislative front, the MAR Board of Directors voted unanimously at our last meeting to support our Assemblyman Marc Levine’s AB-1537, which seeks to lower the state-mandated housing density from 30-units per acre to 20-units per acre.  Local officials have come to meetings at MAR since I got there bemoaning this Sacramento-sourced mandate, where Marin is classified as “urban” and lumped in with San Francisco and Oakland, rather than “suburban” like our neighbors to the north in Sonoma and Napa counties.  This is unfolding, but MAR will doing what we can to support this legislation.

I wish you a safe and prosperous week!